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Friday, September 30, 2005

Bennett, Eugenics and Eucharist

Bill Bennett has committed the horrendous crime of agreeing with professors from Stanford university and the University of Chicago. After all, it was only six years ago that Dr. John J. Donohue 3rd of Stanford Law School and Dr. Steven D. Levitt of the University of Chicago publicly argued that the high percentage of abortions in the 1970’s was responsible for the drop in crime in the 1990’s. Dr. Levitt, it may be recalled, was the winner of John Bates Clark award for the best economist under the age of 40.

The Wall Street Journal even ran a book review by economist Steven E. Landsburg which praised Levitt for "daring to address the question...of whether the effect on crime rates is a sufficient reason to legalize abortion."

So, Bennett's thesis is neither remarkably new nor remarkably different from that advocated by abortion supporters and population control advocates for decades: get rid of poor people and the world would be better off. The strong liberal support for population control programs, contraceptive distribution and institutionalizing abortion in the developing world is built on essentially Levitt’s idea. Indeed, Levitt’s statistical work was clearly intended to drum up support for a pre-existing agenda.

So why are luminaries like Nancy Pelosi shedding tears over the fact that Bill Bennett remarked on an idea she already promotes? She has long been an advocate of international population control, which generally translates into making sure that fewer black people are conceived and/or born. Why advocate for this?

Well, we have limited resources, you see. We don’t want other people being born and begging us for food or clothes. Worse, they may simply take our food and clothes. The only way to stop this from happening is to make sure they never get born to begin with.

The entire international family planning system is built on the idea that being born black or poor is in itself a crime. If poverty is itself criminal – and all the best socialists assure us that it is – then contraception and abortion are solutions that address the root cause of crime.

So while Bennett is under assault for saying that aborting blacks reduces crime, one is forced to wonder if the real basis for the latest ululation is the liberal fear that the Republicans intend to take over one of the Democrat's own party planks.

The liberals assaulting Bennett are clearly inconsistent. They embrace the elimination of black people through international family planning initiatives. Then they decry anything they choose to define as "racism" in order to win votes from black constituents. But they certainly don't have a monopoly on inconsistency.

The author of The Book of Virtues clearly buys into the liberal idea that poverty causes crime. He may simultaneously insist that we can't kill people pre-emptively, but it is the dissonance in his worldview which is attracting so much attention.

Like his opponents, Bennett is clearly inconsistent. After all, he clearly believes both that the individual is responsible for creating his own future and aborting certain kinds of individuals pre-emptively will reduce crime.

That is, he embraces the spiritual supremacy of a person's own will in order to appeal to the religious segment of the population. Then he embraces a version of science which insists that human beings are just automata that do not possess meaningful spiritual qualities. By endorsing this version of science, he seeks to appear "cutting edge" to the empiricists among us.

The Nancy Pelosi's of the world cry over lack of medical care for black infants in America but support the abortion of black infants in both the US and abroad. The Bill Bennett's of the world try to hold onto a version of science whose flawed understanding of the human person is in direct conflict with the reality of what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God.

Many people attack the idea of God because of Judeo-Christian Scriptures. They see the evil perpetrated by our spiritual forebears, the rapes, the murders, the mass slaughter and think Scripture is in some way advocating rape, murder or mass slaughter as a way of life. They do not realize that Scripture does not condone these acts - it merely records that these things happened. "Every man did as he judged best."

Science is the same. It cannot bless what happens or prescribe what should happen, it can only record what has happened. When we treat science as Scripture, we end up with eugenics instead of eucharist.


Jordan Potter said...

Steve, you'd better take this one down and rewrite it. Bill Bennett did not advocate aborting black babies -- he explicitly and plainly said that it's morally wrong to do that. He merely said that it would reduce the crime rate -- which it would, since it's only logical that the less people there are, the less crime there will be, and since the crime rate is so high among blacks, an effect would probably be noticeable if someone perpetrated a genocide against every black baby.

Jordan Potter said...

Here's what Bennett said:

"It's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could--if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky."

Here's a comment from Matthew Yglesias, a liberal journalist:

"Not only is Bennett clearly not advocating a campaign of genocidal abortion against African-Americans, but the empirical claim here is unambiguously true. Similarly, if you aborted all the male fetuses, all those carried by poor women, or all those carried by Southern women, the crime rate would decline. Or, at least, in light of the fact that southern people, poor people, black people, and male people have a much greater propensity to commit crime than do non-southern, non-black, non-poor, or non-male people that would have to be our best guess. The consequences, clearly, would be far-reaching and unpredictable, but the basic demographic and criminological points here can't be seriously disputed."

Steve Kellmeyer said...

I think you mis-read the post. I don't say Bennett endorses the abortion of blacks. I just say that he asserts that if one were to do it, crime would drop.

The very fact that he accepts the premise - even though he insists it should not be done - is at odds with his statements concerning the life of virtue.

In fact, we don't KNOW that such an action would reduce crime. The 1999 study did not claim that aborting blacks, per se, would do this, it said aborting poor people would do this. So Bennett conflated two ideas into one - that's a problem no matter how you cut it.

His insistence that the action shouldn't be carried out doesn't change the fact that he believes the action would produce the indicated results.

Jordan Potter said...

I don't think there's adequate grounds to say that Bennett believes poverty causes crime. But I also don't see how one can doubt that if we decided to prevent any more black babies from being born in this country (not that it's even possible to do that) violent crimes, thefts, and dug crimes wouldn't drop. Eliminating so huge a segment of the population would be bound to have an effect on crime rates -- the less people there are, the less crime there is a year, unless the remaining population picks up the slack. It would especially be noticeable since (some kinds of) crime is such a problem in the black community. But Bennett's point is that even if a good result could be obtained from so monstrous an evil, it still would be a monstrous evil. "Solving" human problems by eliminating humans is immoral. You seem to be saying that Bennett agrees with the proposition that man's problems can be eliminated by eliminating humans, but he said the opposite. You're also saying that the genocide of millions upon millions of people in this nation wouldn't have an effect on the nation's crime rate, and that's just not something that can be debated.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

"ou seem to be saying that Bennett agrees with the proposition that man's problems can be eliminated by eliminating humans, but he said the opposite."

Actually, he *said* that eliminating black persons would eliminate some crime - he just said that this is not an acceptable way to eliminate crime.

Now, you and others have attempted to argue that Bennett was right in the sense that eliminating people eliminates crime. That is also a canard.

Eliminating people is itself a crime. Anyone who indulges in this behaviour does not eliminate crime, they simply systematize the kind of crime committed and transfer the guilt for the murders to the survivors.

So, when Bennett said that aborting blacks would reduce the crime rate, he was simply wrong. It would just change the kind of crime most commonly committed.

In short, there really isn't any way to defend his remarks. He *should* have pointed out that abortion is a crime. He didn't.

Jordan Potter said...

Steve, he was trying to show the immense stupidity of utilitarian arguments in favor of abortion -- that even if you could lower the crime rate by aborting every black baby, it still wouldn't be acceptable to do so. You're being too hard on him, and I still can't see how what he said can be interpreted to mean what you say he meant. Your statements that eliminating people is a crime, and that Bennett should have said abortion is a crime, are themselves canards, because as you well know, to our great shame, abortion is not a crime. Therefore the genocide of the black race in this country would not increase the crime rate, because crime rates are based on the number of arrests and convictions -- and no one is being prosecuted for aborting babies in this country until we repair our broken social order.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

I refuse to allow crime to be defined by the deviants. Bennett caved on this one. It was an easy mistake to make, but he caved.